Finding Someone Who 'Gets' You on Your Journey With Illness
Grin and bear it. It’s a phrase I tell myself all too often. After a while you just get sick and tired of telling people what is wrong. Most of the time they don’t understand it, and the other time they need an explanation. The worst is when you do tell someone what is wrong and they try to compare. For example, my mom will ask me how I feel. I will tell her my fibromyalgia is flaring and I’m weak and my bones ache. The response I get is, “Well, I worked all day and I feel just as bad.” The guilt of not being able to get off the couch or out of bed can really eat you up.
I have multiple illnesses and after a while you just keep them to yourself. Even talking to a doctor can be exhausting. It is even harder to find someone who understands and does not just sympathize. When I tell others how I feel, for once I would like hear someone say they know exactly what I’m going through. I don’t want to hear how I need to exercise more or drink more water. When I am speaking out about my pain I don’t want to hear what I can do to lessen it in the future. People who don’t have a chronic illness don’t understand that once the pain starts, you can’t always do much about it.
After a while, reaching out can make you feel hopeless. How can you talk to someone who does not understand? Most of us live with people who do not understand. In my experience, finding a therapist with similar illnesses made all the difference in the world. Not only did she understand, but I didn’t feel judged. I was also not told what to do. After being chronically ill for half my life, I know what to do – I don’t need anyone telling me. It also helps knowing what you say can’t be repeated.
Finding a confidant was the best thing I ever did. I fought it for so long because the thought of telling another person sounded exhausting. Now I know it is best not to go through it alone. Even if you have to search for someone who truly gets you!
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Thinkstock photo via sanjagrujic.